Bill Summaries: S 255 2021 AOC LEGISLATIVE CHANGES.-AB

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  • Summary date: Jun 21 2021 - More information

    AN ACT TO MAKE VARIOUS CHANGES AND TECHNICAL CORRECTIONS TO THE LAWS GOVERNING THE ADMINISTRATION OF JUSTICE. SL 2021-47. Enacted June 18, 2021. Effective June 18, 2021, except as otherwise provided.


  • Summary date: Jun 2 2021 - More information

    House amendment makes the following changes to the 4th edition.

    Section 13

    Revises proposed GS 7A-171.3, which directs the Administrative Office of the Courts (AOC) to prescribe rules of conduct for magistrates, to require the rules to be consistent with the US and State constitutions. 


  • Summary date: Jun 2 2021 - More information

    House committee substitute makes the following changes to the 3rd edition.

    Section 9

    Revises proposed GS 7A-49.6, which grants a general authorization for judicial officials to conduct proceedings of all types using an audio and video transmission in which the parties, the presiding official, and any other participants can see and hear each other. Revises the authority for a court to allow a witness to testify in a proceeding involving a jury by audio and video transmission upon finding in the record that good cause exists for doing so under the circumstances, limiting the authority to civil proceeding involving a jury. Makes organizational changes.

    Section 14

    Eliminates the content of Section 14, which amended GS 7A-20 to direct the Supreme Court to fix charges to litigants for document management as well as the reproduction of appellate records and briefs, and amended GS 7A-343.3 to provide for moneys collected through charges to litigants for document management to also be remitted to the State Treasurer and held in the Appellate Courts Printing and Computer Operations Fund, as is required of charges for reproduction of appellate records and briefs, to be used to support document management shop operations of the Supreme Court and the Court of Appeals. Makes conforming changes to renumber the remaining sections of the act.


  • Summary date: Jun 2 2021 - More information

    House committee substitute makes the following changes to the 2nd edition.

    Section 1

    Adds to the proposed changes to Rule 51 of the Rules of Civil Procedure, and the proposed changes to GS 7A-47.3, to more specifically reference subdivision (2) of GS 90-21.11, defining medical malpractice action.

    Section 8

    Changes the effective date of the proposed changes to GS 42-34.1, concerning undertaking an appeal in summary ejectment cases, making the changes effective on the date the act becomes law (was, October 1, 2021).

    Section 9

    Deletes the content of previous Section 9, which amended GS 51-5.5 regarding magistrates' right to recuse from performing lawful marriages. Makes conforming organizational changes to renumber the remaining sections of the act.

    Revises proposed GS 7A-49.6, which grants a general authorization for judicial officials to conduct proceedings of all types using an audio and video transmission in which the parties, the presiding official, and any other participants can see and hear each other. Modifies the criteria that must be met when the right to confront witnesses or be present is implicated in criminal or juvenile delinquency proceedings to no longer allow for use of audio and video transmission upon the court finding that the use of audio and video transmission in the absence of a waiver is necessary to further an important State interest and that use will not materially prejudice the defendant's or juvenile respondent's rights; maintains authority to use an audio and video transmission when the court has obtained a knowing, intelligent, and voluntary waiver of the defendant's or juvenile respondent's rights, but conditions the authority upon other State laws providing otherwise. Changes the effective date of proposed GS 7A-49.6 to the date the act becomes law (was, April 1, 2021).

    Section 10

    Changes the effective date of the content of Section 10 (previously, Section 11), which repeals language in specified statutes in GS Chapters 7B, 15A, 50B, 50C, and 122C, relating to authority to conduct specific proceedings using audio or video technology, as identified, to reflect the new general authorization for judicial officials to conduct any proceeding using audio or video transmission pursuant to GS 7A-49.6. Makes the proposed changes effective on the date the act becomes law (was, April 1, 2021).

    Adds the following new content.

    Section 14

    Amends GS 7A-20 to direct the Supreme Court to fix charges to litigants for document management as well as the reproduction of appellate records and briefs. Amends GS 7A-343.3 to provide for moneys collected through charges to litigants for document management to also be remitted to the State Treasurer and held in the Appellate Courts Printing and Computer Operations Fund, as is required of charges for reproduction of appellate records and briefs, to be used to support document management shop operations (was, print shop operations) of the Supreme Court and the Court of Appeals.

    Section 15

    Amends GS 1-239 to require judgement creditors to include the date and amount of the payment received in their notice to the clerk of superior court of any payment as required by the statute. Adds that a notice that includes multiple payments from the debtor must specify the date of each individual payment and the amount received on each date. Requires the clerk to promptly enter any such payments on the judgement docket, crediting each payment against the judgement as of the date received by the creditor (previously, required prompt entering of the payment on the judgement docket). Adds the following. Requires proceeds paid to the clerk as a result of levy and an execution sale under Article 29B be credited and applied to the judgement as of the date the proceeds are received by the clerk, and funds paid to the clerk pursuant to the levy under execution without an execution sale credited and applied to the judgment as of the date the funds are collected. 

    Amends GS 1-310 to require a sheriff to separately note on the return of execution for a judgement requiring the payment of money (1) any amount collected without execution sale and the date of collection, and if multiple payments to the sheriff are collected on different dates pursuant to a single writ of execution, the individual dates of collection and the amount collected on each date, and (2) the date of levy and description of property levied and sole through execution sale pursuant to Article 29B. 

    Amends GS 1-339.70 to require proceeds paid by the sheriff to the clerk resulting from execution sale to be credited and applied to the judgement as of the date the proceeds are received by the clerk. 

    Amends GS 162-18 to require a sheriff who has collected money upon an execution placed in the sheriff's hands to immediately pay the same to the office of the clerk of the court from which the execution issued (previously, alternatively allowed for payment to the plaintiff). 

    Section 16

    Amends GS 15A-150(b), which sets forth notice requirements of the clerk of superior court regarding orders granting an expunction, to specify that expunctions granted pursuant to GS 15A-146(a4) (governing cases when charges are dismissed or there are findings of not guilty) are excluded from all clerk of superior court notice provisions of subsection (b) (previously, more generally excluded such expunctions from all notice provisions of the subsection). Adds to subsection (e) to authorize the Administrative Office of the Courts (AOC) to provide notice to State and local agencies of expunctions grants pursuant to GS 15A-146(a4). 

    Section 17

    Amends GS 15A-951(b) and (c), regarding service and filing of motions, to require service upon the attorney or defendant as provided in GS 1A-1, Rule 5 (amended by SL 2020-46 to include electronic service), and to require filing proof of service with the court by filing a certificate of service as provided by Rule 5(b1). Eliminates the existing service requirements that limit service to delivery or mail. Applies to motions made on or after July 1, 2021.

    Section 18

    Enacts GS 7A-98 to allow for matters filed electronically pursuant to rules promulgated by the Supreme Court to be supported, evidenced, established, or proved by unsworn declaration in writing, subscribed by the declarant and dated, that the statement is true under penalty of perjury, rather than under oath or affirmation. Provides for a standard form of a declaration deemed sufficient under the statute. Bars using unsworn statements for oral testimony; oaths of office; any statement under oath or affirmation required to be taken before a specified official other than a notary public; any self-proved will or codicil executed pursuant to GS 31-11.6; and any real property deed, contract, or lease requiring an acknowledgement pursuant to GS 47-17.

    Expands GS 14-209 to include knowingly and intentionally making a false statement in any unsworn declaration deemed sufficient pursuant to GS 7A-98 perjury, a Class F felony.

    Section 18 is effective December 1, 2021.


  • Summary date: Mar 23 2021 - More information

    Senate committee substitute makes the following changes to the 1st edition.

    Section 1

    Modifies the proposed changes to Rule 51 of the Rules of Civil Procedure to require the court to reduce oral jury instructions to writing for civil cases subject to GS 90-21.11 (subsection (b) defines medical malpractice action), rather than Rule 9(j) of the Rules of Civil Procedure (regarding medical malpractice pleadings). Now authorizes and encourages the court, rather than directs the court, to provide the jury a written copy of the oral instructions for the jury to take into the jury room during deliberation. Similarly amends the proposed changes to GS 7A-47.3 to direct the senior resident superior court judge to designate a specific resident judge or a specific judge assigned to hold court in the district to preside over all proceedings in a case subject to GS 90-21.11 (subsection (b) defines medical malpractice action), rather than Rule 9(j) of the Rules of Civil Procedure (regarding medical malpractice pleadings). Adds a new requirement for the senior resident superior court judge to consult with the parties in the case in making the designation. 

    Section 13

    Deletes the previous provisions of Section 13, authorizing a justice or judge to administer the required oath prescribed for attorneys remotely using a form of live videoconferencing technology, notwithstanding the requirements of GS Chapter 84, until December 1, 2021. Instead adds the following provisions. 

    Amends GS 7A-38.1 (concerning civil actions in superior court) and GS 7A-38.3B (concerning mediation matters within the jurisdiction of the clerk of superior court) to provide for the enforceability of a settlement agreements regarding issues at a civil proceeding or a mediation against a party if signed by the party's designee.


  • Summary date: Mar 15 2021 - More information

    Section 1

    Amends Rule 51 of the Rules of Civil Procedure to require the court to reduce oral jury instructions to writing for civil cases subject to Rule 9(j) of the Rules of Civil Procedure, regarding medical malpractice pleadings. Additionally directs the court to provide the jury a written copy of the oral instructions for the jury to take into the jury room during deliberation. Amends GS 7A-47.3 to direct the Senior Resident Superior Court Judge to designate a specific resident judge or a specific judge assigned to hold court in the district to preside over all proceedings in a case subject to Rule 9(j) of the Rules of Civil Procedure, regarding medical malpractice pleadings. Effective October 1, 2021.

    Section 2

    Mandates that the 2022-23 master jury list contain not less than 1.25 times and not more than 3 times as many names as were drawn for jury duty in all courts in the county during the 2018-19 biennium if the jury commission determines that those numbers would be more representative of the required number of jurors than the number of names drawn during the previous biennium. In counties preparing an annual 2022 master jury list, requires the list to contain not less than 1.25 times and not more than 3 times as many names drawn during 2019 if the commission determines that those numbers would be more representative of the required number of jurors than the number of names drawn during the previous biennium. Mandates that a master jury list for the 2022-23 biennium or for the 2022 year have no fewer than 500 names. Places no limit on the number of names that can be placed on the master jury list for the 2022-23 biennium or the 2022 year for counties in which different panels of jurors are selected for each weekday.

    Section 3

    Amends GS 1C-1603 regarding the procedure for setting aside property exempt from the enforcement of creditors' claims, which are set forth in GS 1C-1601. Current procedure prohibits a clerk from issuing an execution or writ of possession for property after judgment unless notice from the court has been served on the judgment debtor advising the debtor of the debtor's rights. Adds a new provision to specify that this notice is not required if the property exemptions under GS 1C-1601 are inapplicable based on their exception from the exemption, set forth in GS 1C-1601(e), which enumerates 10 exemptions including claims of the federal government and claims of the State. Further amends GS 1C-1603 to eliminate the provision stating that failure to file a motion to designate exemptions or failure to request a hearing before the clerk within 20 days after notice of the debtor's rights was served results in waiver of the personal property and homestead exemptions of Sections 1 and 2 of Article X of the NC Constitution; maintains that such failures result in waiver of the exemptions provided in Article 16. Applies to motions and petitions filed on or after the date the act becomes law. 

    Section 4

    Amends GS 7A-38.2 to add a court management staff member to the Dispute Resolution Commission, appointed by the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, thereby increasing the Commission's membership from 17 to 18 members. Adds a new subsection to grant civil immunity to members of the Dispute Resolution Commission and its employees for conduct undertaken in the course of their official duties.

    Section 5

    Makes the following modifications to the Judicial Standards Commission, governed by GS 7A-375. Requires the General Assembly to appoint alternate Judicial Standards Commission members for the Commission members the General Assembly has appointed to serve in the event of scheduling conflicts, conflicts of interest, disability, or other disqualification in a particular case. Deems the alternate members to have the same qualifications of appointment as the original members. Defines vacancy to arise upon the resignation or death of a member, or no longer having the necessary qualifications. Requires vacancies of NCGA appointed members to be filled by the alternate member appointed, or if the alternate member is unable to serve, then pursuant to the procedures of GS 120-122 (previously, required all vacancies to be filled under GS 120-122). Requires the chair to call upon the alternate member in instances in which NCGA appointed members become disabled or disqualified from participating in a disciplinary proceeding, previously filled as if there were a vacancy under GS 120-122 and limited to disability. Concerning other non-judge members, provides for their replacement with alternates by their respective appointing authority in instances of disability or disqualification from participating in a disciplinary proceeding. Specifies that the Chair, who is the Court of Appeals judge appointed by the Chief Justice, serves at the pleasure of the Chief Justice. Makes conforming changes and organizational changes.

    Section 6

    Amends GS 15A-305 to specify that an order for arrest can only be issued for a defendant's failure to appear as required by a duly executed criminal summons if the summons charged the defendant with a criminal offense. Applies to orders and arrests issued on or after the date the act becomes law.

    Section 7

    Amends GS 15A-1011 regarding pleas in district and superior courts. Expands the types of cases authorized for pleas to be received outside of open court in subdivision (a)(4), which currently includes traffic offenses and hunting, fishing, and boating offenses, to include written pleas for the types of offenses specified in GS 7A-273(2) and GS 7A-273(2a) authorized under GS 7A-148(a) (including misdemeanor or infractions cases for alcohol offenses, traffic offenses, hunting, fishing, State park and recreation area rule offenses, boating offenses, open burning offenses and littering offenses, and misdemeanor dune or beach buggy county ordinance violations). Makes conforming changes to and makes the language in GS 7A-180 gender neutral. Applies to pleas received on or after the date the act becomes law. 

    Section 8

    Amends GS 42-34.1 concerning undertaking an appeal in summary ejectment cases, to specify that a plaintiff appellee can apply to the clerk of superior court to immediately issue a writ of possession if the defendant appellant fails to make rental payments within five business days of the day rent is due under the terms of the residential rental agreement (currently only specifies five days). Applies to applications to the clerk of superior court for writ of possession made on or after October 1, 2021.

    Section 9

    Amends GS 51-5.5 regarding magistrates' right to recuse from performing lawful marriages. Adds a new provision to specify that a magistrate who is an ordained minister otherwise legally authorized to solemnize marriages in the State is not prohibited from performing lawful marriages as a minister based upon a decision of recusal under the statute. Makes further clarifying changes. Applies to marriages performed prior to, on the day of, and after the date the act becomes law.

    Section 10

    Enacts GS 7A-49.6 granting a general authorization for judicial officials to conduct proceedings of all types using an audio and video transmission in which the parties, the presiding official, and any other participants can see and hear each other. Requires participating parties to be able to communicate fully and confidentially with his or her attorney, if represented. Requires good cause for allowing a witness to testify by audio or video transmission in proceedings involving a jury. Establishes criteria that must be met when the right to confront witnesses or be present is implicated in criminal or juvenile delinquency proceedings, including (1) the court has obtained a knowing, intelligent, and voluntary waiver of the defendant's or juvenile respondent's rights or (2) the court finds that the use of audio and video transmission in the absence of a waiver is necessary to further an important State interest and will not materially prejudice the defendant's or juvenile respondent's rights. Allows parties to object to conducting a proceeding by audio or video transmission, and prohibits holding the proceeding by audio or video transmission if the presiding official finds that the party has demonstrated good cause for the objection. Requires compliance with state and federal laws governing confidentiality and security of confidential information. Provides for public and media access to proceedings and proceeding recordings, if applicable. Specifies that the statute is not intended to limit the court's authority to receive remote testimony under state law. Requires all proceedings to be conducted using videoconferencing applications approved by the Administrative Office of the Courts (AOC). Defines the term judicial official by statutory cross-reference. Applies to proceedings occurring on or after April 1, 2021.

    Section 11

    Repeals language in the following statutes relating to authority to conduct specific proceedings using audio or video technology, as identified, to reflect the new general authorization for judicial officials to conduct any proceeding using audio or video transmission pursuant to GS 7A-49.6: 7B-1906(h) (concerning hearings for continued custody of a juvenile); GS 15A-101.1(2) (defining document as used in the provisions regarding electronic technology in criminal process and procedure); GS 15A-245(a)(3) (concerning issuance of search warrants); GS 15A-304(d)(3) (concerning warrants for arrest); GS 15A-511(a1) (concerning initial appearance before a magistrate); GS 15A-532 (concerning conditions for pretrial release); GS 15A-601 (concerning first appearance before a district court judge); GS 15A-941 (concerning arraignment); GS 50B-2(e) (concerning ex parte relief in domestic violation actions); GS 50C-6(e) (concerning temporary civil no-contact orders); GS 50C-7 (concerning permanent civil no-contact orders); and GS 122C-268(g) (concerning inpatient commitment). Applies to proceedings occurring on or after that date. Effective April 1, 2021.

    Section 12

    Authorizes the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court to expand the active list of emergency superior court judges to no more than 25, notwithstanding the limit of 10 set in GS 7A-52(a). Expands the Chief Justice's authority to include assignment of emergency judges to hold regular or special sessions of court to address case management issues created by the COVID-19 pandemic. Sunsets the authorities granted on July 1, 2022.

    Section 13

    Authorizes a justice or judge to administer the required oath prescribed for attorneys remotely using a form of live videoconferencing technology if the individual taking the oath is personally known to the justice or judge or provides satisfactory evidence of identity to the justice or judge, notwithstanding the requirements of GS Chapter 84. Expires December 1, 2021. 

    Section 14

    Enacts GS 7A-171.3 to direct AOC to prescribe rules of conduct for magistrates, including standards of professional conduct and timeliness, required duties and responsibilities, methods for ethical decision making. Requires AOC to prescribe the rules by October 1, 2021. Applies to magistrate conduct on or after October 1, 2021. 

    Sections 15 and 16 include a severability clause and a standard effective date clause. 


  • Summary date: Mar 11 2021 - More information

    To be summarized.


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